The Big Japanese Power Sharing Story: Pure Fantasy

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Remember the story about the rotating power rationing in Japan? One for all, all for one? It appears that it is pure fantasy. On Saturday, The Nikkei [sub] wrote that Japanese automakers are considering running their factories in rotation to help cut the industry’s electricity consumption. The wire service said that “automakers are expected to hold a consultative meeting shortly at the office of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association to agree a rotational schedule.” The story had originated on the usually reliable and sometimes uncomfortably persistent Kyodo wire. On Monday, the story grew legs. Automotive News [sub] reported that the electronic industries don’t want to be left behind and demand rotating production holidays between the automotive and electronics industries. It now emerges that it was all wishful thinking.

Today, I called a few members of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association to find out how the meeting went and what was decided. All JAMA members contacted said that there was no such meeting. There wasn’t even such a plan.

One industry insider said “I saw the Kyodo story last week. Closing 7-11 on Monday, Family Mart on Tuesday and Lawson’s on Wednesday sounds like a simple idea. The problem is, the car industry isn’t that simple.”

A contact at another JAMA member said: “If anyone should know about this meeting, then it’s me. I don’t know about this meeting.”

All industry sources contacted confirmed that the lack of reliable power is a huge problem. “We can fix our plants. We can give our suppliers the assistance they need,” said an executive at a leading JAMA member. “We wish we could provide our suppliers with power.”

Once the usually hot and humid summer has arrived in Japan, the power problem will be much bigger than now. According to the manufacturers, there is no simple solution in sight, not even a complicated one. All they know is that the power will be scarce and more expensive.

Who would have thought that a lack of electricity will put a big dent into the Japanese, and by extension the world’s auto industry?

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Cdotson Cdotson on Mar 30, 2011

    I wonder (hope?) if Japan will view rebuilding from this disaster as an opportunity to merge their grids' cycle frequency. Low-voltage 50Hz can be a real PITA for some manufacturers of electromechanical equipment (like the company I work for). Some items just don't like the 50Hz Japanese supply, especially since its voltage window seems to trend to the low side anyway.

  • Geozinger Geozinger on Mar 30, 2011

    I know this is totally OT; but this quote has left me verblufft sein: "One industry insider said “I saw the Kyodo story last week. Closing 7-11 on Monday, Family Mart on Tuesday and Lawson’s on Wednesday sounds like a simple idea. The problem is, the car industry isn’t that simple.” " I haven't heard or seen a mention of Lawson's in at least 25+ years, and I had no idea they had been operating in Japan (and now China!) for a number of years now (thank you Wikipedia). it's hard for me to fathom that a convenience store chain that took root 45 mins away from where I'm from, moved to the Far East and is prospering... Weird...

  • Kars This article was about Ford not Tesla - you are clearly confused.
  • Ollicat Those are individual charging stations vs entire gas stations that have 8 - 16 pumps. And gas stations take 3 minutes to fill vs 30 min to hours for a charging station. And gas pumps are much more likely to be working vs charging statins. Nice try with more propaganda though.
  • Richard Poore Sure, as the article itself notes (hence my ire) California has mandated that all new vehicles sold in state be EV by 2035. They require EV or hybrid by 2026. Since the author admits to this mandate it seems that the article title is clickbait... was really hoping that there was some sort of changes in the CA position since the state is sorely behind on where they need to be with charging stations for this sort of requirement.
  • VoGhost When will Audi eliminate the fake, oversized grills that impede aerodynamics?